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During the course of each of our lives we hear many things that cause us to listen. Some of these things are helpful, some disastrous, and between all that is conflicting advice. Take for instance, the concept of forgiveness. I have always been told by my elders to forgive people for their wrongs and accidental slights – no matter what these were. Few people have gone so far as to advise that, in addition to forgiveness, “to pray for them”, or “forgive, but don’t forget”. I’m sure I’m not alone in this confusing matter, so I’m going to briefly share what I think about it.

Forgiveness, at its very core, harbors the assumption that people will cross you, people will do you wrong, hurt you, use you, amongst all other manner of negative things. This means that forgiveness exists because people are capable of harm – directly or indirectly, and sometimes both ways.

Secondly, forgiveness assumes a therapeutic role – in that there is marginal benefit for victims and a vague notion that is to befall those unforgiving people. Resentment, negative expectations, deteriorated social relationships, spiritual stress, ailments, and sometimes deep-seated cultural morés, such as distrust in the “white-man” – or some such things – can be traced to unforgiveness.


So, here I am, discussing forgiveness – an idea that most of my loved ones proclaim I should adopt, yet, they have such difficulty themselves with forgiveness. (This is not to say they are sociopaths.)

Perhaps the world I want to see doesn’t have forgiveness at all; a world where there are no people whose words trespass against anyone, and that acts are no longer harmful; eliminating all of those things that typically trigger the need for gifting or asking forgiveness. Of course, that’s not a reality; however, just as forgiveness does, we can also act upon our world in ways to preempt forgiveness: we can work to eliminate forgiveness. This idea may seem, at first glance, tricky, for us Indigenous people, having carried so much pain about the world in which our ancestors lived, a world near universally lost. But, if we can change our approach to how we are affected by others, we would do some real good for our next generation – freeing them from the weight of all that could have been.



Dr. Phillip Zimbardo: Social Psychologist

Phillip Zimbardo, born in 1933, was raised in a South Bronx ghetto. He went on to earn a doctorate from Yale, and is the reknowned Professor Emeritus of Stanford University, the place, where he conducted the infamous ”Stanford Prison Experiment”; the experiment he shut down after 1~week because the college students recruited/paid to act as prison guards abused the college students recruited to act as inmates. After 1~week, the ”guards” became brutal, and the ”prisoners” helpless.

Zimbardo planned only an experiment, but he proved again that ”Many people, perhaps the majority, can be made to do anything when put into phsychologically compelling situations ~regardless of…morals, ethics, values, attitudes, beliefs, or personal convictions” (Henslin, 2005: 300).

Dr. Zimbardo elaborated that there are environmental contingencies and social forces which constrain peoples’ behavior, as opposed to will~power, character and personality traits. Situational controls are subtle and we label others negatively who act different from us (2005: 300).

An important concept in Zimbardo’s work is that of DEINDIVIDUATION: the process of losing one’s identity and becoming part of a group. As a situational variable, deindividuation was a large part of Zimbardo’s work and many experiments involving people. Additionally, many of these experiments can be generalized to the dynamics of peer~pressure and conformity.

Deindividuation works first through anonymity~that of disolving into a group; the group, is the identity, not individual actors. It is under this rationale people assume to no longer assume responsibility, or be singled~out for their behavior. Have you ever considered why groups throughout history have painted their faces, wore costumes, masks as they went off to war? Even soldiers and officers of contemporary militaries wear uniforms (with other practical use, such as camouflage) just as a terror~group such as the KKK shroud themselves in white curtain: to deindividuate! (Bartol, 1999: 130).

So how does all this relate to you? The RippleFX Foundation seeks to empower people through communication, educating about the social environment, and social roles and responsibilities. We have published three [3] books to combat the persistent pathology of recidivism produced by the prison superstructure that Zimbardo warned us about. Tax~payers own the prisons ~even the corporate for~profit prisons, a failed business socially. Simply leaving people to the oppressive power and helplessness of such a fruitless situation is irresponsible, forcing people to adapt to merely existing! Incarceration by itself is nothingness.

Our publications focus on developing prisoners, families, and staff alike, taking an ecclectic approach. Our guides are free, and while new, are utilized successfully by few programs already! We cannot conduct further research to strengthen and produce our guides; we need your help. Download a guide from the Criminal Justice page, above. Provide a comment or feedback, and sponsor a class so we can get a guide to every prison, staff member, guard, and warden. Start the paradigm shift!

Phillip Zimbardo also said this: ”Underneath the toughest society~hating convict, rebel, anarchist is a human being who wants his existence to be recognized by his fellows and wants someone else to care about whether he lives or dies and to grieve if he lives imprisoned rather than free” (2005: 303).
We are all imprisoned by some situation; set yourself free…

• Bartol, Curt R. CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR: A Psychosocial Approach, 5th Ed. Prentice Hall. N.J. : 1999.

• Henslin, James M. DOWN TO EARTH SOCIOLOGY, 13th Ed. Freepress. N.Y. : 2005.


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